Fairclough's new attitude pays dividends

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Lora Fairclough of Lancashire made a short trip along the road and produced the best round of her career in yesterday's first round of the Kellogg's British Masters in Cheshire.

The 31-year-old fired a course record eight-under-par 65 to lead by three from Australia's Joanne Mills, while Laura Davies was in the next group of five on four under.

After a poor 2000 season in which she dropped out of the top 40 on the Order of Merit, Fairclough, a former Solheim Cup player, has adopted a new attitude and is hoping to have a second chance to play on the far more lucrative US LPGA Tour. "I went over there a few years ago but didn't really enjoy it," she explained. "But there are so few tournaments in Europe and I've come to realise that careers are short and you have to make the most of them.

"There are so many breaks in Europe and all the starting and stopping is hopeless if you want to stay competitive. I've also matured over the past few years and now I really want to play in the States."

Fairclough was in great all-round form all afternoon. She made easy birdies at four of the five par-fives, while her longest putt was from 20 feet for a three at the par-four 15th.

Davies was delighted to complete her round before seeking out a television to watch the Tim Henman match at Wimbledon, and she could sit back and enjoy tennis having made an acceptable start to the event. She did three-putt her opening hole, but hit back with five birdies to raise hopes of winning the first women's event in Britain this year ­ and her first in Europe since the Compaq Open in Sweden two years ago.

"It's great to be back playing in England again and 69 is a very decent score," said Davies, who ended a 13-month drought on the US-based LPGA Tour with victory in the Wegmens Rochester International last month.

LPGA KELLOG'S BRITISH MASTERS (Mottram Hall, Cheshire) Leading first-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 68 65 L Fairclough. 68 J Mills (Aus). 69 L Davies, M Monnet (Fr), S Pettersen (Nor), L Brooky (NZ), A Rogers. 70 D Reid, I Tinning (Den), R Carriedo (Sp), J Lindbergh (Swe). 71 M Lodjahl (Swe), P Marti (Sp), H Hopkins (Aus), A-B Sanchez (Sp), G Scott (NZ), E Ratcliffe. 72 C Grady, M-L De Lorenzi (Fr), T Johnson, V Van Ryckeghem (Bel), S Eklund (Swe), S Jelander (Swe), K Taylor (amateur), E Stromlid (Swe), K Taylor, L Ericsson (Swe), C Schmitt (Fr), C Duffy.